Drop your linen and quitcher grinnin', 'cause we've got a serious recession goin' on. We suspect you've read the news already, but let's contemplate the magic number one more time: 533,000 jobs lost in the month of November, the largest single-month loss since 1974. And if you're a homeowners staring default in the face, take what comfort you can in the fact that you're not alone. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, one out of every ten homeowners in America is at least one month behind in their mortgage payments. Last quarter, 1.35 million homes went into foreclosure. When the Bronx caught fire in the '77 World Series, it seemed to sum up all the decade's misery and dysfunction. Anyone have a parable for our own particular era? We're taking submissions.
Port Backs Off Pollution Plans
Hey, here's one, and it happened just last week. When reports tracked a spike in cancer patients in West Oakland, and experts claimed that a major contributor was exhaust from the diesel trucks rumbling to and from the nearby Port of Oakland, port officials promised to commit a sizeable chunk of cash to reduce diesel emissions and help safeguard the health of their neighbors. But last week, the Oakland Tribune reported that the port commission had voted to indefinitely postpone a $5 million payment into a fund to install filters on the trucks. Not only that, but the commission also chose to stall an effort to draw up a plan to curb emissions and charge container fees to fund the project. As you might expect, the decision drew angry howls from both air quality district officials and local environmentalists. Looks like cancer is here to stay!
Cal Too Broke to Let You In
Or how about this one: Cal Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Boalt law school dean Christopher Edley, and University of California President Mark Yudof convened at a Pauley Ballroom panel discussion about the sorry state of UC's finances. The system is so bleak, they said, that managers will have no choice but to cut down on the number of California students admitted, and boost the number of students from out of state. Why? Because out-of-state students don't qualify for California's low tuition, and the system can't do without the extra cash. "The trade-off, frankly, is between poor in-state students and wealthy out-of-state students," Birgeneau said, according to the Daily Cal. At least he didn't sugarcoat it.
As things look ever bleaker for the UC system, the public is growing less and less tolerant of UC's policy of "retiring" high-level employees, handing them a fat severance package, and hiring them back for different positions. The San Francisco Chronicle recently found a particularly egregious example of this practice, in which former UC President Robert Dynes gave administrator Linda Williams $100,000 in severance to leave her job and handed her a new position as associate chancellor at UC Berkeley. How many in-state students could be admitted for $100,000? We were never very good at math.
Sacto's Fiscal Crisis
Ooh, here's a good one. Facing a new $11 billion budget deficit, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a fiscal emergency, forcing the state legislature to convene and struggle to resolve the budget crisis. If the problem isn't fixed in 45 days, the legislature will be forbidden from considering any bills except those that deal with the crisis. "We have to take quick action to avoid even worse problems, even if they include decisions we don't like," he rather glumly declared.
Nacho Faces Fine
Looks like the good times are even over for Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente. Once upon a time, Nacho got some sweet perks, such as $2,331 in free parking at the San Francisco International Airport. But it turns out that was against the law. De La Fuente has paid back the money, but it looks like the state Fair Political Practices Commission will fine him an additional $1,500 for his troubles.
Dellums Does Something
In the first few months of this year, then-Oakland city administrator Deborah Edgerly wrote up a letter announcing her intention to retire sometime this year. The circumstances of her departure may have been a little more dramatic than anyone anticipated, but Mayor Ron Dellums knew it was coming sooner or later. Did he start promptly looking for her replacement? Of course not. Now, roughly eleven months since Dellums could have started his city administrator search, City Attorney John Russo has penned a letter warning him that if he doesn't name someone soon, he will be in violation of the city charter. In response, Dellums has promised to, yes, announce his pick for a new administrator in the next few weeks. Is this what we mean by responsive government?
As the Oakland cop search warrant scandal widens, a local judge has ordered two officers to meet with her and prove that confidential informants that supposedly provided evidence to justify search warrants actually exist. ... The Oakland Athletics are meeting with BART officials to consider a new stadium site located near the Warm Springs BART extension.